Magnum – Here Comes the Rain (Steamhammer/SPV)Friday, 12th January 2024
Fifty years as a musician and songwriter for Magnum is quite a legacy to uphold for guitarist Tony Clarkin. The UK act continues to churn out an addictive blend of AOR-oriented melodic hard rock that contains flashes of bombast, progressive, or heavier elements for this latest studio record Here Comes the Rain. These ten tracks move forward with the same lineup that recorded 2022’s delightful outing The Monster Roars – exploring all facets of the quintet’s sound, incorporating aspects of their entire history to incorporate an aural odyssey followers should treasure.
While other musicians may frontload albums with energetic, up-tempo offerings, Magnum instead choose to stick to a strongest material early mentality – no matter soft or loud, ballad to rocker. The piano-driven “Some Kind of Treachery” features a plaintive Bob Catley vocal presence that builds out into theatrical splendor, subtle orchestral sections next to uplifting Clarkin guitar lines keeping ears pinned for the next key emotional highlight. “Blue Tango” contains some killer driving, bluesy guitars next to funky / Southern rock-like piano play, while bassist Dennis Ward and drummer Lee Morris thoughtfully support the positive, circular nature of the main hooks and soaring chorus. Those who love the band’s progressive rock nature should delight in the work within “The Seventh Darkness”, the subtle musical interplay movements along with bright saxophone / horn support as well as complimentary breezy vocal harmonies hard to resist. When you need a show-stopping closer full of Clarkin’s tasteful axe skills next to a steady, mid-tempo backbeat and thoughtful vocal melodies/harmonies, look no further than the 6:24 “Borderline”, the mood shifts shimmering all the way into the tranquil, Rick Benton-fueled keyboard finale.
British illustrator Rodney Matthews delivers another vibrant cover, much like he has over the years for the group (The Eleventh Hour and On a Storyteller’s Night personal faves). Magnum shows no signs of retirement on the horizon – and why should they, when albums like Here Comes the Rain deliver high quality, vitally relevant AOR-infused melodic hard rock with all the requisite memorable songwriting skills one could ever hope for in this style.